27 Pros and Cons of Living in Colorado: Should You Be Moving?

Is Colorado A Good Place to Live?

view of downtown Telluride at sunset showing what it is like living in Colorado in the warmer seasons

The Pros and Cons of Living in Colorado

Everything You Should Know Before Considering Moving to Colorado

What’s it really like living in Colorado? You’ve seen the pictures of the Rocky Mountains. Heck, you may have visited Colorado a few times and already fallen in love. But let’s be honest, moving to a place you love is a whole different ballgame than just visiting. And as a couple who made the decision to move to Colorado over half a decade ago, we’re here to break down all the pros and cons. So, is Colorado a good place to live?

After living in Colorado for more than 5 years (and traveling all over the best mountain villages in the Rockies for our work as adventure photographers), we’ve experienced our fair share of benefits and downsides of living in Colorado. And we’ll break them all down for you.

Why Trust Our Guide to Moving to Colorado?

We're Local Coloradans Who Relocated, Too

views of Moraine Park that can be seen when living in Colorado and going to the park in the winter months

We get that your trust is earned, not guaranteed. And as Colorado locals who made the move ourselves, we’re sharing our own personal experience living in Colorado.

Every year, we drive tens of thousands of miles throughout Colorado to explore our best towns and hiking trails for our work as adventure photographers, so you know we’ve seen what Colorado has to offer scenically.

We’ve also experienced what its like to rent apartments in the state, as well as navigate the very wild home buying process here.

And lastly, we are friends with and work with a wide range of Coloradans, including both Colorado transplants and people who have lived here their whole lives.

Because of that, we have the perspective of getting a sense for how living in Colorado has changed over the decades, both from a population and lifestyle standpoint, down to the politics (which, depending on who you are, can be viewed as a pro or a con). 

a couple who moved and is now living in Colorado exploring the red rock formations in Garden of the Gods

All of this to say, we’re here to be your guides and walk you through this process of relocating. We’ll go over all the reasons we love living in Colorado and all the reasons we don’t, so you can make your decision to move (or not move) with confidence.

We’re here to give you the real, nitty gritty details. So let’s dive into it: is Colorado a good place to live? It depends. First up, let’s chat about the pros of moving to or living in Colorado.

Disclosure: We’ve included some gear recommendations in this guide to the pros and cons of moving to and living in Colorado. If you choose to buy through our links, we may earn a commission, at no cost to you. Shopping through these links helps support our small Colorado business. All recommendations are crafted with love and expertise, from platforms we use and trust for our own adventures.

Pros of Living in Colorado

The Reasons Colorado is a Good Place to Live

There’s a reason so many people believe Colorado is one of the best places to live in the US (and why so many locals are dead set on convincing people not to move here). Our state is pure magic..and many locals want to keep it to themselves.

Living in Colorado isn’t for everyone, but for certain types of people, saying it is a good place to live would be an understatement. These are the top reasons we love living in Colorado, and why we personally chose to relocate.

1. Living in Colorado Means Having Access to World Class Hiking and Mountain Scenery

alpenglow on the mountains near yellow aspen trees in Aspen showing what it is like living in Colorado during the changing of the leaves

When it comes to the pros and cons of living in Colorado, one pro tends to outweigh them all: the Rocky Mountains. There’s no denying that the mountains in Colorado are world class. Our hiking trails are some of the best the US has to offer. Frankly, our trail systems are one of the biggest reasons people are moving to Colorado and why it’s such a good place to live.

If you’re looking for idyllic, charming mountain villages, Colorado has so many. We have everything, from the highest elevation incorporated city in the United States (Leadville) to luxurious mountain escapes like Telluride to wildflower paradises like Crested Butte.

In the winter months, living in Colorado means having access to top notch skiing and snowboarding, in addition to plenty of backcountry and front country trails you can snowshoe and cross country ski.

In the summer months (when many states are hot and muggy), Colorado is a wildflower dream, whether you’re hitting the trails or going on a high alpine off-roading adventure in the San Juan Mountains. The mountains never really get super hot, making them amazing to explore during the summertime.

And don’t even get us started on fall in Colorado. Our state is home to the largest number of aspen trees in the US, so it goes without saying that fall here is pure magic.

Colorado's Mountain Passes Are in a League of Their Own

mountain pass view at sunset within a few hours drive for anyone living in the Colorado Front Range

And speaking of mountain scenery, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention how scenic the roads and mountain passes are in our great state. Just getting from point A to point B when living in Colorado is an adventure in and of itself.

Curious how epic our mountain passes really are? These are the guides we’ve written to some of our faves:

Curious About Our Favorite Seasons in Colorado?

Whether you’re just visiting the mountains or planning on relocating and living in Colorado, our guide to the best seasons in CO goes over the ideal times of year to get out and adventure (and you might be a little surprised by some of our recommendations).

2. Living in Colorado Means Being Within Driving Distance to Epic Western Destinations

a view of Black Canyon of the Gunnison, a national park within about a 5 hours drive for anyone living in Denver Colorado

Calling all road trip fanatics! If we’re being honest, this is one of the biggest reasons we adore living in Colorado. We spend so much of our time on road trips exploring both Colorado and the western half of the US. And Colorado’s geographic location makes that super doable.

If you’ve chosen to move to a Front Range town like Denver, Boulder, or Fort Collins, an hour and a half – two hour day trip can get you to places like Breckenridge for skiing and hiking adventures. Or if you’re in Boulder, take a short 20 mile trip up toward Nederland to Eldora (a better option if you’re trying to avoid tourism ski crowds).

And if you’re looking for lengthier in-state excursions, Southwest Colorado is home to some of our favorite mountain towns to explore, like Silverton, Ouray, and Telluride (a must for winter sports).

But beyond Colorado, the drive from Denver to Moab (one of our faves) is under 6 hours, making it a great weekend option. And in around 7 hours, you can get from Fort Collins to Grand Teton National Park.

While living in Colorado, we’ve made a point to road trip to pretty much every western US state, and it has hands-down been one of our favorite parts of moving here.

Some of our favorite drives include going from Colorado to Washington (peep our full Washington recommended road travel itinerary, if you’re planning travels there). and from Colorado to California (where we visited Capitol Reef, Zion, Death Valley, Yosemite, Sequoia, and Kings Canyon National Parks on our route).

We’ve even gone as far as Banff and Jasper National Parks in Canada, all by driving, because the roads into and out of Colorado are all so scenic and make road travel so worth it.

Plan The Ultimate Rocky Mountain Road Trip

Before moving to Colorado, we highly recommend taking a lengthy road trip to see the parts of the state you’re considering relocating to and living in. We’ve crafted the ultimate road trip itinerary through CO, covering our favorite cities and mountain villages to get you started.

3. Living in Colorado Means Experiencing the Dreamiest Weather

a couple in the snow experiencing a winter wonderland while living in Colorado

There’s a misconception that living in Colorado means putting up with frigid winters with lots of snow. And yes, don’t get us wrong, we certainly do get snow (especially in the mountains…after all it’s part of what makes CO a great skiing destination).

But the epic thing about Colorado winters is that you can have a warm and sunny day in the 60’s right after a chilly snow day. And with our dry climate, 60’s can honestly be shorts weather. 

While it’s technically a myth that Denver gets 300 days of sunshine, Colorado is known for its sunny days (and that sun melts the snow pretty quickly). So while places like the northeastern US get wet and humid snow that sticks around endlessly, we don’t.

That said, the weather can actually be one of the major cons of living in Colorado too, but more on that later!

cloud inversion in the San Juan Mountains near Silverton showing what it is like to live in Colorado during early summer

And now for summer: arguably one of the most magical pros of living in Colorado. The summer weather in the mountains is perfection, to be honest (less so on the Front Range and elevations under around 7,000 ft, but more on that in our cons list).

While most of the country deals with hot temps in months like July and August, the Rocky Mountains are experiencing chilly mornings and warm wildflower dotted afternoons in the 60’s and 70’s. Does it get any better?

When you’re at higher elevations, it never really gets sweltering. Pair that with Colorado’s dry climate, and you have a truly dreamy weather experience that makes living in Colorado super special.

4. Living in Colorado Means Having Access to a Top Notch Craft Beer Scene

two cans of craft beer from Great Divide Brewing in Denver Colorado

The craft beer culture in Colorado is strong, to say the least. And if we’re being honest, it becomes part of the identity of so many people living in Colorado (summit beers, anyone?). 

There’s no shortage of breweries, from Left Hand in Longmont (one of our personal faves) to New Belgium in Fort Collins to Great Divide in Denver to Avery in Boulder. Plus, there are so many smaller names that are 100% worth the visit (Funkwerks in FoCo is a favorite of ours for sours).

If you’re a beer lover, the craft beer community is definitely ones of the pros of living in Colorado. You’re sure to find an epic community of people who love a cold one as much as you do.

5. Living in Colorado Means Having Easy Access to 4 Epic National Parks

views of Moraine Park that can be seen when living in Colorado and going to the park in the winter months

While it’s home to the iconic Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado also has three other national parks that are lesser known but offer a world of adventure and exploration. In our book, the parks system is one of the coolest parts of living in Colorado.

living in Colorado means having access to national parks like Great Sand Dunes, which is home to North America's tallest dune and the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in the background

Great Sand Dunes National Park is actually our favorite among Colorado’s national parks. With North America’s tallest sand dune nestled against the towering Sangre de Cristo mountains, this gem offers a beauty you won’t be able to find anywhere else in the US. When we moved to Colorado, it’s one of the first places we visited, and it’s actually where we got married too.

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is a deep gorge cut into the earth with canyon walls carved over millions of years by the Gunnison River. With striking cliff faces setting the scene, this national park offers climbing, hiking, and scenic drives to visitors.

Hiking into the canyon is definitely a task for more advanced adventurers, but it’s one of those unique park excursions that makes living in Colorado such an adventurous experience.

And then there’s Mesa Verde National Park, a true archeological treasure. With centuries-old Puebloan cliff dwellings preserved by the arid climate, visitors can see the remains of an ancient civilization abandoned after drought.

Of course, Rocky Mountain National Park can’t be omitted from any list about Colorado’s national park treasures. From the family-friendly Bear Lake trail system to advanced mountaineering challenges on Longs Peak, Rocky Mountain National Park has something to offer everyone.

Never Been to Rocky Mountain National Park? These Are The Must-See Spots.

Rocky is basically our backyard, and we’ve explored it more times than we can count at this point. Our guide to the must-see sights in the park covers the essential spots to see if you’ve never visited before.

6. The Dry Climate Can Make Living in Colorado More Enjoyable Than More Humid States

the dry climate you get when living in Colorado as seen here in Garden of the Gods is one of the many pros of living in the Centennial State

We both grew up in Georgia, where hot and muggy summer temps were the norm. And winter, even though the temperatures wouldn’t drop super low, would be uncomfortably cold from the humidity. Living in Colorado, one of the things we like the most is the dry climate.

While the dry weather certainly has its downsides (more on that in the cons section of living in Colorado), there are a few key reasons we love it:

  • It’s not often you have humidity ruining your hair and creating a constant frizz.
  • Even when it gets into the 90’s on the Front Range in the summer, it’s a dry heat, making it so much more tolerable. And by the time the evening rolls around, it gets much cooler, which makes getting outside so much easier.
  • Similarly, Colorado’s dry climate means winter adventures are also more enjoyable. While 30 or 40 degrees would be considered cold in more humid places in the US, on a sunny day in Colorado, it’s honestly quite enjoyable.

7. Living in Colorado Means You're Moving to a State That is Implementing Programs to Make Life Easier for Families

fall photos of a family who moved to Berthoud Colorado

We recently had our first child, so this is one of the most exciting pros of living in Colorado for us.

Colorado is currently implementing two family-friendly measures we’re very excited about:

  • Paid Family Leave: Colorado’s FAMLI program makes paid family leave a reality for many small business owners and self-employed individuals. 
  • Universal Preschool: Colorado’s universal preschool is intended to save families living in Colorado about $6000 a year through offering part-time and half-day care options. This program actually opened up applications at the beginning of 2023.

8. You’ll Encounter Some of the Kindest and Most Open-Minded People Living in Colorado

We remember being so nervous about moving to Colorado, wondering if the people would be friendly and if it’d be possible to truly build a community here. But what we encountered were some of the kindest and most welcoming people we’ve ever met.

We grew up in the south, where they talk about “southern hospitality”, but they don’t really mean it. Meanwhile, since living in Colorado, we’ve made the greatest friends and have built lifelong connections with the people here.

People are just plain nice. We’ve had neighbors offer to help shovel snow off our driveway and drop off baked goods “just because”. We’ve had acquaintances-turned-good-friends teach us to climb. We’ve had strangers-turned-bffs be willing to meet up for coffee and make us feel welcome when we first moved to Colorado.

And beyond our own personal experiences, there are so many groups that encourage this Colorado friendliness, like one of our personal faves, Women Who Hike Colorado.

We won’t lie, not everyone is welcoming to those who’ve just moved to Colorado. There’s a whole group of people who like to refer to themselves as “Colorado Natives”, who are generally pretty aggressive towards transplants who’ve relocated. But those negative people, thankfully, are not the norm.

9. People Living in Colorado Tend to Embrace Laid Back and Casual Fashion

couple wearing casual outdoors attire while hiking which is one of the pros of living in Colorado

The best way to describe the fashion culture here in Colorado would probably be outdoorsy and low maintenance. When it comes to spending on clothing, most Coloradans would rather splurge on a solid puff or a nice fleece than a designer outfit.

We grew up in a place where getting dressed up and “keeping up with the Joneses” was the norm, so we personally welcome the laid back fashion culture (or lack thereof) that comes with living in Colorado.

That said, Colorado’s lack of trendiness when it comes to fashion is a con for some people considering moving here. It’s not for everyone, but we love it!

10. Living in Colorado Means Access to Epic Concerts at Red Rocks

For many fans of live music, attending a concert at Red Rocks is an ultimate bucket list item. And one of the pros of living in Colorado (especially in the Front Range) is that you have easy access to an epic venue to see your favorite musicians.

Nestled in Morrison, Colorado just miles from Denver and Golden, the world-famous amphitheater is carved into rock formations in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains.

Many people travel to Colorado just to see their favorite artist play Red Rocks, or plan a trip to Colorado around a concert. One benefit of moving to Colorado? No cross-country trip required to see your fave band or artist.

11. Living in Colorado Means Relatively Low Property and Income Tax

alpenglow on Ophir Pass in the San Juan Mountains near Silverton showing what it is like to live in Colorado during early summer

Nothing’s certain except death and taxes, right? Well, good news for folks considering a move to Colorado is that the tax burden is not, well, too burdensome when you’re living here.

For income taxes, the state has a flat 4.4% income tax rate as of 2023. For anyone considering buying a home after moving to Colorado, property taxes are among the lowest in the country.

According to SmartAsset, the average effective property tax rate in Colorado is 0.48%, roughly half the national average of 0.99%.

12. Mining Ruins Throughout the State Show What Living in Colorado Was Like in the late 1800's and Early 1900's

ghost town cabin with aspen trees behind it near Aspen showing what living in Colorado in the late 1800s was like

There are so many Colorado ghost towns that show what living in the state was like during the mining booms.

Places like Ashcroft, Alta, Saint Elmo, and Animas Forks all tell such unique and compelling stories. These ruins give a unique picture of how harsh and intense life was in some of these high elevation outposts.

Some of them are better maintained than others, but each tells a unique story about the trials and tribulations of the people that braved living year round in some of Colorado’s harshest living conditions.

Speaking of Ghost Towns...

One of our favorites is actually on the way up to Alta Lakes in southwest Colorado. Our guide covers all the details.

13. If You Work in Tourism or Outdoor Recreation, Living in Colorado Presents Some Solid Job Opportunities

couple living in Colorado throwing snow into the air on a winter hike in Estes Park

While these certainly aren’t the only industries surging in Colorado (with healthcare and tech also supplying jobs to plenty of people living in Colorado), as a Colorado-based business who depends on our tourism and outdoor recreation industries, we can’t help but speak highly.

If you’re considering moving to Colorado, we’d be willing to bet that the epic landscapes and outdoors adventures are probably part of the reason. And if you ask us, there’s no better way to live than to have your job incorporate those same travels and outdoors activities.

Luckily, tourism and outdoor recreation are a big part of the Colorado economy. In fact, outdoor rec in Colorado alone accounts for over $37 billion in consumer spending annually.

So whether you’re moving to Colorado to work at one of our many ski resorts to get a job as a ranger in a national forest, the options are plenty (and pretty cool, if you ask us).

14. Stargazing in Colorado Is In Its Own League

view of the Milky Way from Wolf Creek Pass in southwest Colorado

Seeing the Milky Way is almost taken for granted when living in Colorado. Driving on one of our many mountain passes on your way home from the mountains and stop to stretch your legs? Look up, because the stars are sure to amaze.

We don’t get too many cloudy days here in Colorado, and we also have so many dark sky areas (in fact, Great Sand Dunes is a certified International Dark Sky Park) that seeing the Milky Way is almost a breeze compared to many other places in the US.

So much of Colorado is untouched, wild land, and those types of places are perfect for stargazing. When it comes to the night sky and all its beauty, it doesn’t get much better than living in Colorado.

15. Colorado Is a Super Dog Friendly State to Live In

one of the pros of moving to or living in Colorado is having access to dog friendly alpine hikes like this lakeside spot near Leadville

Living in Colorado means being surrounded by plenty of fellow dog parents, with 43% of households owning a pup.

Our dog comes with us on almost every adventure we go on, and it’s typically very easy to find pet-friendly lodging. 

Plus, there’s no denying how much our dog absolutely loves living in Colorado. After all, the hiking trails are truly unmatched. And there’s nothing she loves more than dipping her paws into alpine lakes.

Typically, most national parks will have rules about pets not being allowed on trails, so we usually leave our girl at home for those adventures. That said, parks like Great Sand Dunes are much more dog-friendly, which we love!

16. Denver International Airport is a Hub and the Perfect Starting Point To Domestic + International Travels

DIA is actually the 5th busiest airport in the US, and it’s a hub for several airlines. So if you tend to travel often, living in the Front Range of Colorado can be a nice perk.

Hub airports have the benefit of offering more frequent flights to a larger number of destinations. So not only do you have plenty of options, you tend to be better able to score a deal on your tickets.

Cons of Living in Colorado

The Reasons Colorado is Not a Good Place to Live

There’s no denying that the epic landscapes and active lifestyle make living in Colorado a dream. But there are also some serious downsides of living in Colorado that are worth mentioning and considering before you make the move.

Over the years of us living in the Centennial state, these are the downsides we’ve personally experienced and seen our community of friends deal with as well.

17. Living in Colorado Means Putting Up With Heavy Mountain Traffic

one of the downsides of living in Colorado is that access to high alpine lakes like the one here are limited by heavy traffic

With the number of people living in Colorado growing really quickly, traffic is getting worse and worse every year. Let’s just say that i70 tends to look like a parking lot on snowy weekends in the winter and on summer weekend afternoons and evenings, making this one of the bigger cons of living here.

Having moved from Atlanta, Georgia, we always find it a little funny when people in Colorado complain about the traffic, because in general it isn’t that bad. But the real exception to this is the mountain traffic, and i70 is the primary culprit here.

If you’re able to adventure into the mountains on the weekdays, absolutely do it. That’s our preferred way to avoid crowds. But if your work schedule doesn’t allow for that, we also love getting up before sunrise. Not only do you typically get most trails to yourselves for a couple hours, but the only real traffic you come across is road construction that slows things down a tad.

That said, while the mountain traffic is definitely one of the cons of living in Colorado, the beauty of the Rockies (and the views along i70) certainly make up for this downside.

18. Living in Colorado Means Dealing With Over-Crowded Hiking Trails

the alpenglow on the mountains at an alpine lake within an hours driving distance if you are living in Boulder Colorado

With all that heavy traffic on i70, you can expect a lot of those drivers to be making their way to the trails. Since moving to Colorado, we’ve noticed the hiking trails getting busier and busier every year.

And the pandemic made it even more hectic (that’s actually one of the biggest reasons parks like Rocky instituted a timed entry system for the late spring through the early fall…more on this in our RMNP guide).

Some of the quiet trails we used to visit now see large groups on a regular basis. Finding parking at the trailhead can be a real challenge unless you get there are sunrise or plan for a weekday or shoulder season adventure.

That isn’t to say you can’t find peace and quiet. One of the pros of living in Colorado is that we’ve had SO MUCH time to explore lesser-known areas and find solace in the mountains.

19. Living in Colorado Means Putting Up With Some Wild Weather Conditions

views of a frozen Sprague Lake that can be seen in the winter when living in Colorado

While the weather is also one of the pros of living in Colorado, it’s also one of the inevitable downsides of living in Colorado as well.

You’ve got the classics, like arctic freezes with double digit negative temps that blow through (although these are more occasional), avalanches (on mountain roads, front country trails, backcountry trails, etc…they’re honestly more common than you’d think), and obscenely large and intense hail in the spring (golf ball sized hail that dents the crap out of everything in sight).

But beyond the classic weather conditions you can expect when living in Colorado, we’re seeing more and more natural disasters. Colorado wildfires have become more frequent and more intense.

The Cameron Peak fire, which happened back in 2020 became the largest fire in Colorado state history, and covered over 200K acres of land, stopping a few miles short of the town we lived in at the time.

For a huge chunk of 2020, we were dealing with completely orange skies and breathing in ash on a daily basis. Everything around us smelled like a campfire. 

Without a doubt, wildfires are one of the biggest downsides of living in Colorado.

20. Buying a Home in Colorado Means You’ll Likely Have to Deal With Metro Districts

view of a small mountain town in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado where people are living at nearly 9000 feet of elevation

We talked about Colorado’s low tax rates as a pro of living here. Well, unfortunately with that pro comes with some real cons in tow. And this con is one of the sneakiest, most frustrating aspects of living in Colorado.

With a population that has grown very quickly against a low tax base, local governments are largely not able to outlay the money needed to fund expanding infrastructure to support Colorados’ population growth.

Metro districts have stepped in to exploit the gap. They are semi-governmental entities that allow home developers to issue bonds to fund infrastructure to support the growth, and then have the power to tax residents of the districts to pay for the outlays.

Unfortunately, metro districts have minimal oversight, have been rife with self-dealing, and leave homeowners on the hook for uncontrolled ballooning rate increases and surprise “tax” bills with no recourse. So you really don’t get to benefit from the lower Colorado property tax rates at all.

Nowadays, it’s rare to find new homes being built in communities that aren’t in a metro district, which makes moving to and buying a home in Colorado extremely challenging.

Per the Denver Post, “No regulations stop these developer-controlled boards from approving arrangements that are financially advantageous to their business, allowing them to finance overly ambitious plans without fear of liability, knowing future homeowners ultimately shoulder the burden.”

21. The Cost of Living in Colorado Is Quickly Rising

seeing the yellow aspen trees in the fall is one of the biggest pros of moving and living in Colorado

It’s a common question: is it expensive to live in Colorado? And while the answer really depends on the person, the reality is the cost of living in Colorado is rising rapidly and pricing out a lot of people.

The average price of a Denver single family home has nearly tripled in the past 20 years, while the average household income hasn’t even doubled. So while we’re seeing an increase in prices for everything from season ski passes to groceries, salaries and wages for those living in Colorado are not keeping up.

Ever since moving to Colorado, we’ve made a point of exploring (and consistently re-visiting) our favorite mountain spots, and some of those places were far enough from our home on the Front Range to require us to book lodging. And in many of those places, the price of lodging simply between the years of 2019 and 2022 have doubled (and in many cases, tripled).

While the cost of living in Colorado has increased as a whole, the mountains have been especially hard hit. With many of our best mountain villages becoming modern-day ghost towns outside of the peak season, due to homes being gobbled up by people who are not living in Colorado full time turning them into short-term rentals, there is a seriously limited (and arguably non-existent) amount of affordable housing.

It’s getting to the point where towns like Frisco, Colorado (where the average home price is nearly $1 million) have considered declaring a state of emergency. And when traveling to towns like Telluride, we’ve noticed local coffee shops having to close their doors in large part due to the fact that their staff cannot afford to live in or near their workplace.

The fact of the matter is that living in Colorado without making financial unsound decisions is a reality for many service industry workers. To be frank, if you want to own a single family home in the mountains, being a millionaire is almost a requirement.

22. The Colorado Food Scene Is Not Great

dinner plates with roasted potatoes, meat, and a side salad made with local Colorado foods

We’re suckers for good food and coffee, and sadly since moving to Colorado, the options haven’t been great. Where we moved from (Atlanta, Georgia), the food and coffee scene was incredible. We had tons of multicultural options, from stellar Ethiopian food to incredible Indian street food to deliciously cozy Pho joints.

And from our travels to places like Portland, Seattle, LA, Nashville, Miami, etc., we’ve experienced some truly delicious cuisine. However, living in Colorado, we’ve realized good food isn’t a priority here (and we’re not the only ones who feel this way).

Living in Colorado, it’s taken a lot more effort to seek out good restaurants. Perhaps it’s because we grew up in the south, but for starters, since we’ve been living in Colorado, we haven’t been able to find solid BBQ. Even the highest rated places (and the ones that claim southern origins) can’t compare to anything we could find in our hometowns.

But beyond southern staples (which we admit, likely aren’t going to beat the originals in the south themselves), other cultural experiences are limited as well. For example, one of us is Persian and there really aren’t many Persian restaurants at all in the Denver Metro area. And the ones that claim to serve Persian food really just lump all mediterranean food into one bucket.

When we first moved to Colorado, we were on the hunt for some delicious pizza and kept getting recommendations for a place called Beau Jo’s. People wouldn’t stop raving about this “Colorado style pizza”. So we gave it a try, and unfortunately it was one of the worst pizzas we’d ever had. We recently gave it another try, just to make sure we weren’t being biased, but nope, still bad.

We remember reading a comment somewhere online that said something to the effect of, “there’s a reason Colorado-style pizza hasn’t caught on anywhere else.” And frankly, they’re right.

craft cocktail surrounded by floral arrangements created by a moving bar in Colorado

Living in Colorado, our favorite place to go for a good bite to eat would probably be Boulder. They have the most diversity of cuisines and offer more adventurous and unique food options. But to put it simply, if you’re a foodie, we’d probably recommend thinking twice about moving to or living in Colorado.

It’s also worth including a quick note about coffee, too. One of us used to be a barista, so we’d like to think we know a thing or two about good coffee. And let’s just say, living in Colorado, you have to do a bit of digging to find solid espresso. Sure, we have plenty of cute and beautifully designed coffee shops, but a pretty shop doesn’t equate to a good cup of joe. 

All of this said, living in Colorado doesn’t mean you can’t find good food. There are some gems. For coffee, we love Boulder’s Alpine Modern and Boxcar. For craft cocktails, one of our favorites is Death & Co in Denver.

The Israeli cuisine at Safta in Denver absolutely shines. If you’re craving comfort food, the Farmhouse at Jessup Farm in Fort Collins is our favorite. And if you’re looking for delicious and unique ice creams, High Point Creamery is to die for.

23. Colorado Is Not a Very Diverse State

As a multicultural household, we believe diversity matters. There’s nothing quite like being a community where there are others who share the same heritage and traditions as you. And unfortunately, this has been one of the downsides of living in Colorado.

While the people of Colorado are some of the most open-minded and accepting, it isn’t the most diverse place to live. And while the lack of diversity impacts things like the food scene, it more importantly impacts those individuals who have a hard time seeing themselves represented in the community.

This issue of diversity is amplified quite a bit if you’re living in the mountain villages of Colorado, where typically less than 20% of the population is represented by minorities.

24. Colorado Has The Highest Rates of Skin Cancer of Any State

view of the mountains on a sunny day in Crested Butte as seen through the side mirror of a black car

One of the biggest downsides of living in Colorado is that it’s the state with the highest per capita rate of skin cancer. Why? For starters, our higher altitude means you’re closer to the sun.

Ever hiked at 12,000 ft elevation with no tree cover? Even if you’re not prone to burning super easily, you likely will in these conditions. Our favorite sunscreen is always in our hiking pack with us for outdoors adventures here.

And like we mentioned earlier, while it is technically a myth that we get 300 days of sunshine, we do still see a lot of sun living in Colorado. And the frequency of sun exposure ups that risk as well.

25. You’ll Likely Need Radon Mitigation If Buying a Home in Colorado

one of the downsides of living in Colorado is the exorbitant price of homes, especially on large acreage in the mountains like this barn style property

Colorado is one of the top 10 states in terms of average radon level. If you’re buying a home, it’s recommended to test radon levels (as the gas can lead to lung cancer), and there’s a good chance you’d need to have a radon mitigation system put in place.

Needless to say, high radon levels is certainly one of the downsides of living in Colorado, especially given the expense of radon mitigation.

26. Living in Colorado Means Dealing With Horrible Drivers

traffic on i70 in the mountains near Golden is one of the downsides of moving to or living in Colorado

Since moving to Colorado, we couldn’t help but notice how horrible the drivers are here. And it turns out, there’s some data to back that up. According to a study that looked at over 10 million insurance quotes, Colorado ranked #12 in terms of worst drivers.

Things get especially dicey in the winter months, when there’s a mix of tourists who don’t know how to drive on snowy mountain roads paired with locals who get overly confident in their snow driving skills and AWD vehicles.

And when you’re dealing with such a high concentration of the country’s most dangerous roads and mountain passes, things can get messy. Needless to say, driving and living in Colorado isn’t always for the faint of heart.

27. Colorado Public Transit Leaves Much To Be Desired

We would argue that this is more of a nationwide issue than a Colorado-specific issue, but it bears mentioning if you’re considering moving to Colorado.

While RTD public transit system makes navigating the greater Denver area easier to do without a vehicle, outside of the city, things get a bit more complicated.

And while you can find shuttles that service the mountains (like the Snowstang bus from Denver to Breckenridge), you are dealing with limited travel times and windows, which may impact your experience (shuttle hours will be during more popular mountain visiting times, which means you’ll be dealing with more crowds).

Realistically, living in Colorado requires a vehicle to really explore the outdoors. And ideally, you’ll want an AWD or 4WD high clearance vehicle to see the best of the state (because let’s be honest, Colorado’s off-roading is one of the biggest perks of living here).

A Quick Recap of All The Pros and Cons of Living in Colorado

A Summary of the Best Reasons For and Against Moving to Colorado

The Pros of Living in Colorado

ghost mining town ruins showing what it was like living in Colorado in the 1800s
  1. Home to world class hiking and mountains
  2. Within driving distance to epic western US destinations
  3. Great weather
  4. Excellent craft beer culture
  5. 4 national parks
  6. Dry climate
  7. State-funded paid family leave and universal preschool
  8. Kind and open-minded people
  9. Casual fashion culture
  10. Great live music at Red Rocks
  11. Relatively low property and income tax
  12. Rich history of mining ghost towns
  13. Ample tech and healthcare job opportunities
  14. Excellent stargazing
  15. Dog friendly
  16. Access to an international hub airport

The Cons of Living in Colorado

high alpine thunder storms in the mountains is one of the downsides of moving to or living in Colorado
  1. Heavy mountain traffic
  2. Over-crowded hiking trails
  3. Wild weather conditions and natural disasters
  4. Metro districts
  5. Colorado infrastructure unable to handle large influx of transplants moving here
  6. Rising cost of living
  7. Subpar food and restaurant culture
  8. Lack of diversity
  9. Highest rate of skin cancer of any US state
  10. High radon levels
  11. Poor public transit
  12. Bad drivers and dangerous roads

One Last Note: Is Colorado a Good Place to Live After You Retire?

retired couple standing by a lake in Colorado

There are a few key pros and cons of living in Colorado as a retiree. Let’s start with the pros, though. For starters, Colorado has a great healthcare system, with the state ranking 10th in the country, based on factors like accessibility and quality.

Another perk of retiring and living in Colorado? There is no sales tax on medications. If frequent prescription refills are something you have to deal with, Colorado’s tax laws make it that much more affordable.

And of course, there’s no denying the scenery in Colorado is breathtaking. If living an active outdoors lifestyle in retirement is important to you, living in Colorado will allow you to bring that vision to life.

As for cons of retiring in Colorado, the biggest ones are the dangerous weather conditions (more ice and snow present higher risks of slips and falls) and the high cost of living (this is especially relevant if you want to retire and move to the mountains). 

Sneak a Peek at Our Most Popular Colorado Guides

We’re Sheena and Ed, a couple of hikers, outdoors advocates, and adventure photographers living in Colorado. And we believe in crafting comprehensive and helpful guides to all-things Colorado.

If you’re planning a trip to our great state and have a few weeks to spare, we’ve created the ultimate 2-3 week road trip itinerary, with our top must-see gems.

Also peep our favorite mountain towns in Colorado for the places you can’t miss on your travels (and the ones that may be worth considering if you’re planning on living in Colorado).

Not sure which time of year is best to visit the Rockies? Not all our seasons are made equal, and our guide to the best times of year to be in the Rockies goes over everything you need to know.

And no trip to Colorado is complete without a trip to Rocky Mountain National Park. Whether you’re considering moving to Colorado or you just want to visit, these are our favorite things to do when we go.

Sheena Shahangian Photography LLC

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